Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving

Many people are aware of the penalties they could face if convicted of DWI, but how do those penalties change if you are underage? A grandmother and grandson in Santa Fe, New Mexico recently discovered what the consequences for underage drinking and driving can be. According to KOAT, a Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy recently pulled a car over for erratic driving. When the driver exited the vehicle at the high-risk traffic stop, the deputy discovered that the driver was 13-years-old and possibly intoxicated, with his grandmother and another teen in the backseat of the car. Because the young driver may have been drinking but refused a sobriety test, he is facing charges of aggravated DWI as well as charges for driving without a license. In New York State, driving with even a little alcohol in your system is prohibited by law if you are underage. Read on to find out what the penalties could be if you are convicted of an underage DWI and how an experienced attorney may be able to help you.


“Per Se” DWI Law

New York State has a per se DWI law that applies specifically to underage drivers. Per se DWI means that the DWI charge is only based on your blood alcohol concentration, regardless of how impaired you were. The law that applies to underage drivers says that, if you are driving with a BAC of .02% or higher, but less than .08%, you can be cited by police even if your driving ability wasn’t affected. Underage per se DWI is not a crime. If you are charged with underage per se DWI, you will go to the DMV for a hearing instead of to court and the DMV commissioner, rather than a judge or a jury, will decide on your case. If you are convicted of underage per se DWI, you may face a six-month driver’s license suspension and a $125 civil penalty. You may be able to get a conditional driver’s license for going to work and school if you participate in the Impaired Driver Program (IDP). If you have a prior DWI offense on your record, your license may be suspended for one year or until you turn 21, whichever is longer and you will not be eligible for IDP or the conditional license. You will also still be subject to the $125 civil penalty.

Penalties for underage conviction

If you are underage and convicted of a DWI or DWAI, you may be facing harsher penalties than someone of age. Underage drivers can be charged with DWI for driving with a BAC of at least .08% or for being impaired to a “substantial degree”. If you are at all impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both, you could be charged with DWAI. For an underage driver, the penalty for being convicted of either DWI or DWAI is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. You can complete the IDP, but it does not shorten the amount of time your license is suspended. You will still have to complete the full year before you can drive with no restrictions.

Who to contact

If you are underage and have been charged with DWI or DWAI, contact the attorneys at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. Lipsitz Green’s DWI attorneys will be aggressive in defending your rights. They will be able to assess your situation and the penalties you may be facing in order to provide you with the best defense possible.

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.